Lalu Prasad Yadav

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Lalu Prasad Yadav: Biographical highlights; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, November 9, 2015

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Biographical highlights

As in 2015

The Times of India, Nov 09 2015

Can't contest for 11 years but Lalu wins match for Nitish

Despite an uncertain future following his conviction in the fodder scam (he's currently out on bail), Lalu proved in 2015 that he remains one of the principal poles of Bihar politics. This even though his conviction renders him ineligible for contesting elections for at least six years after he finishes serving the five-year sentence. This election was yet another milestone in the life of the cow herd who has exploited his caste identity , inimitable communication skills and political cunning to craft an odds-defying political career.

His street smartness became evident when he moved from his village to live in the frugal peons' quarters of Patna Veterinary College, where his brothers were employed. He soon became a successful student leader. Lalu's ideological moorings were not that strong, but he more than made up for that with his flamboyance and people skills. On March 18, 1974, when police fired upon student protesters leading to several deaths, Lalu declared himself dead. He passed on the “information“ to newspaper offices, besides telling milkmen to spread the word about the death of a “prominent Yadav leader“. Tthe episode helped him create curiosity about himself, Lalu admitted.

Imprisonment during Emergency--he named his first child Misa because he had been detained under Maintenance of Internal Security Act--lent him a seriousness that many thought he had lacked till then. It also propelled him to Lok Sabha in 1977.

He lost the LS election in 1980 and 1984, but won the So nepur assembly seat in consecutive elections. The untimely demise of socialist giant Karpoori Thakur in 1988 helped Lalu become leader of opposition: a breakthrough achieved with the help of Nitish Kumar. He got elected to LS in 1989 but his heart was set on Patna. The 1990 state elections saw Janata Dal eking out a narrow victory, and Lalu became CM.

His unconventional style created ripples. He would land in government offices for what he called “auchak nirikshan“ or “surprise inspections“, and summon fire tenders to hose mud-caked kids in Dalit `bastis'. Even as bureaucrats tried to come to terms with the man who found files a pain and was more comfortable sitting cross-legged in lungi and khadi vest with the ubiquitous spittoon not far away , Lalu caught the imagination of the masses, Yadavs as well as OBCs.

The excitement was about to wear thin when Devi Lal fell out with V P Singh. But Lalu and other Tau proteges like Nitish switched support to V P Singh in exchange for his commitment to implemen the Mandal Commission re port. This established him as the leader of OBCs. The sup port of OBCs and Muslims helped him sweep the 1991 LS elections and, later, survive the revolt by Nitish. He won the 1995 state elections on his own steam and seemed set to realise his aspiration to be PM after the 1996 LS polls when the fodder scam derailed him.

He lost the 2005 state polls and was routed in the 2009 LS polls and 2010 assembly polls as well. His conviction and disqualification from contesting polls, the defeat of his wife and daughter in the 2014 LS polls and the issue of who should succeed him pulled him down.

He appeared to be at an existential crossroad until Nov 2015 when he emerged as the single largest player and took credit for the “coronation“ of “chhota bhai“ Nitish as CM.

Excerpts from Yadav’s autobiography

I single-handedly persuaded VP Singh to implement 27% OBC quota, April 6, 2019: The Times of India


Edited excerpts from Gopalganj to Raisina: My Political Journey by Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nalin Verma, with permission from Rupa Publications India

Arguably the most colourful politician in India, Lalu Prasad Yadav has seen, and been part of, momentous events in the past four decades. In a forthcoming autobiography, the veteran recounts his highs and lows. Excerpts…


Meeting Rabri the bride

In March 1974, Rabri Devi—my bridecame to my Phulwaria home after undergoing the gauna ceremony. Though we were married on Basant Panchami day in 1973, we were not supposed to live together from the first day of marriage. The ritual prescribed that the husband and wife could meet and live together only after gauna — a ceremony in which the bride is sent to the groom’s family after a year or so of marriage. Thus, I had not seen Rabri Devi till she came to my house. When I saw her for the first time, she was wearing an ordinary bridal sari and looked shy and somewhat apprehensive. I went close to her and said, ‘I am the leader of a big movement going on in Bihar. Jayaprakash Narayan is leading us. I am duty-bound to reach Patna before 18 March. If I fail to reach in time, I will be declared a renegade or a sold-out. Anything can happen... I can be arrested and put behind bars. I expect your cooperation.’ Rabri didn’t say anything. It was the first time that I had spoken to her, and she was naturally reticent.


The arrest of L K Advani, and a poisonous rumour

To be honest, nobody had asked me to stop the Rath Yatra or arrest Advani. The Prime Minister had said nothing. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the Union minister for home affairs, called me to Delhi and enquired if I planned to detain Advani. When I remained non-committal, he said, ‘Why are you taking it upon yourself (to block the procession)? Let the Yatra go on.’ I then retorted, ‘Aap sab ko satta ka nasha chad gaya hai’ (You people are intoxicated by power).

I was clear in my mind that Advani’s Yatra was a direct and real threat to the minority community and to communal harmony. Having made up my mind, I called a meeting of senior state officials in the bedroom of my house. I said that the Yatra had to be stopped and Advani (as well as other Sangh Parivar leaders such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad stalwart, the late Ashok Singhal) were to be arrested.

The initial plan was to arrest only Advani in Sasaram. A helicopter would be sent there to fetch the detained senior BJP leader. I even called up the pilot and informed him about the idea. I told the people at my bedroom meeting to keep the plan under wraps. Yet, it was leaked and Advani altered his route. It was then decided to detain Advani in Dhanbad. However, administrative officials there refused to do so on grounds of law and order.

It was time for Plan B. I summoned an IAS officer, R K Singh (now BJP MP from Arrah and Minister of State (IC), Power and New and Renewable Energy, in the Narendra Modi-led government) and Deputy Inspector General-rank IPS officer Rameshwar Oraon, to my 1, Anne Marg residence and discussed the modalities with them. I then called the state chief secretary, home secretary and other senior officers concerned, and issued a special order on the evening of 9 October, empowering R K Singh and Oraon to arrest Advani at Samastipur.

I didn’t sleep the whole night. I called on the landline of the government guest house at Samastipur in which Advani was staying. It was about 4am on 10 October. A cook picked up the phone. I didn’t reveal my identity and described myself as a reporter from Aaj newspaper. I asked the cook, ‘What is Advaniji doing?’ He said, ‘He is sleeping.’ I asked, ‘Is he alone or are there others around?’ He said, ‘He is alone in his room.’ I asked the cook to serve him tea, and put the receiver down. A few minutes later, Oraon and R K Singh called, informing me that the mission had been accomplished.

I had learnt from the deputy commissioner of Dumka that Advani had been eating frugally at the guest house where he was incarcerated, because he did not like the food being served there. Meanwhile, rumours began to float through a section of the media that the BJP leader was being slowly poisoned at my behest and, realizing the plot, Advani had stopped taking food. I was shocked that the media could stoop to such lows. To quell this rumour, I told the deputy commissioner to contact Advani’s daughter, Pratibha, and request her to visit her father. I arranged for her move to the guest house in a state helicopter. ‘Get your phatphatiya (a local term in north India for a two-wheeler, but my officers knew that I used the term for a helicopter) out, track her and bring her down,’ I ordered. Pratibha came to meet him, which ended the ‘poisoned food’ speculation for good.


On trial for the fodder scam

The then finance secretary, V S Dubey —an officer with an impeccable recordinformed me about the questionable withdrawals from the treasury under the head of the Animal Husbandry Department on the basis of fake vouchers. They had been taking place since 1977–78, when the Government of India and the Bihar government had begun the tribal sub-plan and other schemes for the welfare and development of the tribals in the Santhal Pargana and Chota Nagpur regions. These schemes included a programme to enhance the performance of the animal husbandry sector. But, as it happened, the contractors and the suppliers, in connivance with corrupt bureaucrats, used the welfare schemes for the poor to fatten their own pockets through dubious means.

After 1981–82, the amount of excess withdrawals from the treasury under the head of the Animal Husbandry Department kept rising consistently in successive years. The fraudsters had continued with their act through the tenures of at least 10 chief ministers. When Dubey brought the racket to my notice for the first time, I was shocked and furious.

I immediately called a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Financial Matters, which ordered the finance secretary to send express messages to all the DMs to investigate the bungling. The DM of West Singhbhum found serious irregularities in his district treasury. So did his counterpart in Ranchi. My government took prompt action against the fraud on the basis of their reports, lodging as many as 41 FIRs. I constituted a judicial commission to probe what I termed a mega-treasury scam. I took pride in the fact that I had blown the lid off a scam that was going on for the past several years, with many of my predecessors having overlooked it.

Here I was taking action against the wrongdoing, but my detractors instead declared me the ‘mastermind’ of the scam. My political opponents in the BJP and the Samata Party accused me of direct involvement in the affair well before the CBI began its probe into the scam. The BJP even produced a booklet, titled Chara Chor (Fodder Thief), displaying a cartoon on its cover that showed me on a buffalo, eating fodder. The feudal media put me on trial before the court took cognizance of the case. No chief minister before me had undergone a smear campaign on such an organized and massive scale.

A lower court sentenced me for the first time, 17 years after filing of the charge sheet in the case. Subsequently, lower courts have sentenced me in three more cases. I have never spoken against any of the verdicts nor will I do so. I have been living my life in the manner desired by the honourable court.


The Mandal wave

Within a few months of the formation of the National Front government in New Delhi, there came to be two power centres—Prime Minister V P Singh and Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal. The two leaders were at unease with each other. They routinely issued contradictory statements, imperilling the sustainability of the government.

I began to worry that the growing unease between VP Singh and Devi Lal could lead to the fall of the National Front government, and in the process could endanger my government in Bihar. I conceived a formula to save the VP Singh regime in August 1990. Without letting any union minister get a whiff of it, I sought an appointment with the Prime Minister, which was readily given. After the courtesies were done with, I bluntly said, ‘You must take action against Devi Lal, otherwise the government will fall.’ VP Singh had a sharp mind and good political instincts. He replied, ‘Devi Lal ji is a leader of the Jats and the backwards. If I act against him, he might fan out in India, propagating that I am anti-backward and anti-poor.’ I responded, ‘There is a way out. The Mandal Commission gave its report in 1983, recommending a 27 per cent quota for the backward classes in government jobs. The recommendation is gathering dust in your office. Implement it with immediate effect.’ I firmly believed that, if it was done, it would take the sting out of any propaganda that Devi Lal might circulate about VP Singh being anti-backward.

The PM was reluctant. I persisted; I was convinced that he would emerge as a messiah of the poor and backward. The implementation of the Mandal Commission report, I insisted, would strengthen his political position and empower him against Devi Lal. I urged VP Singh to implement the Mandal Commission report without delay. VP Singh eventually seemed convinced. He enquired about where I was staying during my visit. I told him that I had put up at Bihar Bhavan in Chanakyapuri. I reassured him that he could call me anytime he liked. ‘But call a Cabinet meeting first and implement the report without any second thought,’ I added. Senior leaders such as Sharad Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan and many others were unaware of my meeting with the PM. I now took them into confidence, informing the surprised leaders that VP Singh had agreed to implement the Mandal Commission report. After I left for Bihar Bhavan, VP Singh called a meeting of the Cabinet, and it was decided to implement the report. He sent me a copy of the notification through a special messenger. I put it in my briefcase and hurriedly left for Patna.

Ill-gotten assets

Ministers gave property to Prasad's family

Ex-RJD mantri: Gave Lalu kin land, it wasn't quid pro quo, April 29, 2017: The Times of India


RJD Neta: Members Try To Financially Empower Party Chief

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) admitted that former Union ministers Raghunath Jha and Kanti Singh gave property to party chief Lalu Prasad's family, but denied that it was quid pro quo. The statement came a day after senior BJP member Sushil Kumar Modi accused Lalu of acquiring properties from Jha and Singh in exchange for ministerial berths in the UPA-I government.

Singh not only accepted that she and her family gave 30 katthas of land (approx. 41,400 sq ft) at Danapur, Patna district, on lease to Lalu's wife and former Bihar CM Rabri Devi in 2006, but also said they registered it in Rabri's name in 2010. Modi had alleged that Singh and her family leased out the land to Rabri for 99 years on a monthly rent of Rs 1,250 for a Union Cabinet berth.

“Laluji's family had to vacate the CM's official residence after RJD lost the 2005 assembly elections. Laluji had around 100 cows and he had to shift them to another place. So, I leased out my plot at Danapur as a temporary arrangement and later sold it to Rabri in 2010 for Rs1 crore as my family needed money after I lost the 2009 elections,“ Singh added.

Modi countered Singh's claims and said the land she registered in Rabri's name was different from the one she had leased out to her. “The land Kanti Singh is talking about is a 62-decimal (roughly 27,000 sqft) plot adjacent to the 95-decimal (approx. 41,400 sq ft) leased out to Rabri. Kanti Singh sold this particular piece of land to Lalu's two sons -Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap -for Rs 60.36 lakh in 2010,“ Modi alleged.

Jha's son Ajit Kumar Jha also admitted that his father had gifted a plot in Gopalganj to Tejashwi and Tej Pratap in 2005, but emphasised that it was a “personal“ transaction. “Zameen mera, hum usko kisko gift karein, usse kisiko kya matlab hai (The land is ours.How does it concern anyone else if we gift it to someone)?“ Ajit said. He added that his father's ministerial stint under UPA-I wasn't his first. “My father was state (Bihar) minister of various important departments... between 1980-83 and 1990-95. Besides, he was an MLA from 1972 to 1998 and became MP in 1999 and 2009.He was in the prime of his political career even before he gifted the land. Hence, the allegation of seeking favours is baseless,“ Ajit added.

Addressing newsmen, RJD functionary Jagdanand Singh said: “Lalu is our leader. He fights for social justice. Hence, other leaders try to financially empower him in order to make him strong enough to lead the movement.“

Cattle-shed worker `gifted' Rabri land worth Rs 31 lakh

Rabri's cattle-shed worker `gifted' her land worth Rs 31 lakh: Sushil Modi, June 7, 2017: The Times of India


`Benami Assets Used To Convert Black Money'

Leader of opposition in the Bihar legislative council Sushil Kumar Modi alleged that former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi had been gifted a 1,088sqft land near Saguna Mor valued at Rs 30.9 lakh on January 25, 2014, by Lalan Choudhary , an employee of a cattle shed run by her family , in order to convert their black money.

Furnishing documents, the senior BJP member claimed that Choudhary , a resident of Barharia block in Siwan, bought the land along with a house for Rs 3.90 lakh on March 30, 2009, from one Rameshwar Prasad Yadav.

Five years later, the same land was gifted to RJD chief Lalu Prasad's wife when its value had risen to Rs 30.90 lakh, Modi said.

Modi, who has held 20 press conferences in the last two months to expose the benami properties of the Lalu clan, questioned the purpose of gifting the land to Rabri.

He quoted a clause from documents related to transfer of land, which stated, “The donor (Choudhary) is very close to the done (Rabri) for a long time and the done is also financially helping and rendering service to him for a long time and therefore the donor disclosed his intense desire to gift his said property .“ “What kind of financial aid was Rabri providing to Choudhary that he gifted such a high-value land to her? Why did he agree to suffer a loss of Rs 27 lakh while gifting the land to Rabri?“ Modi asked on the sidelines of his weekly ja nata darbar.

“Rabri purchased the land at undervalued price in the name of Choudhary using her black money and got it gifted to herself after five years,“ he said.

Modi, a former Bihar deputy CM, asked Lalu's family to disclose the actual identity of Choudhary and the purpose of gifting the land to Rabri.

“The modus operandi of the Lalu family is to acquire benami properties at throwaway prices,“ Modi said.

He had earlier accused Lalu of acquiring properties from former RJD MPs Raghunath Jha and Kanti Singh in lieu of offering them ministerial berths.

Charges against the family: A 2017 backgrounder

Navika Kumar, With front companies, Lalu Yadav's kin made realty killing , May 12, 2017: The Times of India


HIGHLIGHTS

Lalu purchased expensive property at throwaway rates by buying and selling shares in dubious front companies.

Misha Bharti and her spouse acquired a farmhouse at Bijwasan where many rich own properties, for a mere Rs 1.41 crore. 
 A complex web of shady transactions has exposed how family members of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad purchased expensive property at throwaway rates by buying and selling shares in dubious front companies.

Documents with Times Now show that Rajya Sabha member Misha Bharti, eldest daughter of Lalu Prasad, and her spouse Shailesh Kumar acquired a farmhouse at Bijwasan, near IGI airport, where many rich and influential own properties, for a mere Rs 1.41 crore. The couple also acquired a farmhouse at Sainik Farms after an intriguing transaction with the owner.

As per Registrar of Companies records, Misha Bharti is listed as director of at least four private limited companies, along with Shailesh.

One of the companies, Mishail Packers and Printers Pvt Ltd., was incorporated in December 2002 by the couple and registered at Lalu's official bungalow at 25, Tuglak Road, New Delhi, which was allotted to RJD chief Lalu Prasad as a Rajya Sabha MP.

As per its balance sheet, the company's business activities stopped in 2006 and its plant and machinery were sold.

In 2008-09, Mishail Packers purchased a farmhouse at 26 Palam Farms in Bijwasan for Rs 1.41 crore. Funds were arranged through sale of 1,20,000 shares of Rs 10 each in Mishail Packers, at a premium of Rs 90, to V K Jain and S K Jain, the entry operators who were arrested in March this year as part of crackdown on black money.

The shares were purchased back within less than a year by Misha and her husband at Rs 1 or Rs 2 in 2009: a transaction which should raise suspicions of money laundering.

A Times Now team, which went to the Palam Farms area in Bijwasan, found that construction on the property has not taken place yet. A part of the farmland was being used for agriculture activity. People at the farm confirmed that the property beOne of the companies, Mishail Packers and Printers Pvt Ltd., was incorporated in December 2002 by the couple and registered at Lalu's official bungalow at 25, Tuglak Road, New Delhi, which was allotted to RJD chief Lalu Prasad as a Rajya Sabha MP. As per its balance sheet, the company's business activities stopped in 2006 and its plant and machinery were sold.

In 2008-09, Mishail Packers purchased a farmhouse at 26 Palam Farms in Bijwasan for Rs 1.41 crore. Funds were arranged through sale of 1,20,000 shares of Rs 10 each in Mishail Packers, at a premium of Rs 90, to V K Jain and S K Jain, the entry operators who were arrested in March this year as part of crackdown on black money.

The shares were purchased back within less than a year by Misha and her husband at Rs 1 or Rs 2 in 2009: a transaction which should raise suspicions of money laundering. A Times Now team, which went to the Palam Farms area in Bijwasan, found that construction on the property has not taken place yet. A part of the farmland was being used for agriculture activity. People at the farm confirmed that the property belonged to Mishail Packers.

The property, going by current commercial rates, should fetch anything between Rs 40-50 crore.

In an effort to investigate the intriguing transaction between Jain brothers and the daughter and son-in-law of RJD strong man, Times Now tried to track the duo. The team visited the registered office of one of the companies of Virendra (Jain). After making inquiries, the team was directed to another address where Jain owns a business.

But, going by the charges against them, the Jains could allegedly be using the businesses as a smokescreen. The real purpose of setting up of such dubious companies may have been to sell and buy shares to facilitate moneylaundering.

Misha and Shailesh appear to have used another front company, KHK Holdings , to 'buy' the 2.8 acre farmhouse at H27/1 Sainik Farms. The company was was originally owned by Vivek Nagpal, a known figure in Delhi's political and business circles, who, in 2014, transferred 10,000 shares to the couple at only Rs 1 lakh.

KHK Holdings, under Nagpal, had acquired the Sainik Farms property. It also raised a loan of Rs 23.76 crore in 2010 from India Bulls Housing Finance Ltd. After Nagpal mysteriously sold his company to Misa and her husband, the property remained with the company.


Security men deployed at the address confirmed that the house is now in possession of Misha who, along with her father, often comes visiting. The value of this property too is easily worth Rs 50 crore, if not more.


On being asked to react, RJD spokesman Manoj Jha mailed the following statement: "What is the illegality involved therein? We are being subjected to a typical 'supari journalism' whose brief is to denigrate and delegitimise important voices and images of opposition. If the fourth estate looks for conspiracy and quid pro quo in an otherwise natural transactions, it tells you that all is not well."

When contacted, Nagpal said he has many companies and he doesn't remember any transfers to Misha Bharti and would revert with more information.

Misha and her husband now have assets worth around Rs 100 crore, all acquired at throwaway prices through questionable share transactions. Why Jain and Nagpal got into these deals is a matter of deeper probe, but there is enough to suspect is that the influence of Lalu Prasad, an influential figure in the UPA regime, may have been a big factor in Misha and her husband turning multi-millionaires.

Fodder case, conviction

See: Fodder scam of Bihar, 1996

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